Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Profiles in Saving: BudgetBabe

Has there ever been someone you've admired for certain qualities (their business skills, their straight-A habits, their parenting abilities, etc) and you always wanted to ask how do they do it? I thought it would be interesting to do just that. I asked a few of my friends and family members whose financial skills I admired and present them to you in Profiles in Saving! For the first profile, I decided to do myself...I was available for an interview. :)

LWG: How did you develop your financially savvy identity?

BB: I think it took me awhile to get a sense of what I should be doing with my money. I have always been good about tracking it - as soon as I got my first checking account, I diligently updated my checkbook register. I switched soon to online banking and checked my accounts multiple times a week. I even signed up for 3 years ago (way before it was cool). But I did not understand the importance of money until further on down the line. I had multiple credit cards and I only paid the minimum balance. I had store credit cards. I didn't save money I earned. My husband's unemployment really made me stop and think about what I was doing. I started noticing how my spending habits weren't matching up with my goals, and noticing the things I spent my money on didn't necessarily make me happy. Since I had my financial epiphany a year and a half ago, I'm credit card debt-free, I'm a homeowner of a house well within my budget, I have built up an emergency fund to last 6 months, and I co-write a personal finance blog! :)

LWG: How do you integrate saving into your regular routine?

BB: IFor me, it starts with being a savvy consumer. For big purchases (anything over $500), I do some research and shopping around. For everyday purchases, I shop smartly. I don't spend time clipping coupons - they are usually for products I don't buy and it seems like a waste of 30 minutes to save $2. I do shop sales at grocery stores and stock up if there's a product I use frequently. I use group saving sites, like Groupon and Living Social. My other purchase that adds up tends to be coffee - my solution was limiting myself to $25 per month. Once I go over, that's it for the month. It allows me to have an indulgence but I reign it in.

As far as savings go, I need to be better about making it automatic. Right now, anything that's left over at the end of the month goes into savings, and that's usually a decent amount. But making it automatic will just make it less work for me and make it more routine.

LWG: What do you splurge on?

BB: I definitely could slim down my clothes shopping budget. I've improved and I still don't usually spend more than $100 on clothes per month, but I do still get things that are not necessities. I try to stick with the rule of throwing one thing out if I'm going to buy something new, but that takes discipline that I lack sometimes. What I'm splurging on currently is higher quality food products. I subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I get an organic produce box every other week for $30. I really believe that what you put into your body is so important and it can affect everything - your health, your skin, your mood. Plus, it's better for the environment to buy local. It is really worth the investment in my opinion.

LWG: What is the best piece of financial advice you've ever been given?

BB: Save at least 10% of any money you ever get - salary, gift, inheritance, etc. My dad said that to me a few years ago when one of his friends said he'd been doing that since he was 15 and it really stuck with me.

LWG: What is the advice you'd give to someone who wants to be lean with green?

BB: I think to not obsess about saving money. I think that ends up backfiring and causing more stress and headaches than it's worth. Live your life and spend your money in a way that's meaningful to you, but make good choices.

Coming next week, a Profile in Savings about some of my best friends. They are a married couple who have inspired me in many ways, but particularly when it comes to being financially smart! I hope you learn as much as I did from them! Stay tuned!


  1. Great interview, thanks BB! I don't think that the CSA boxes are even a splurge. You get about 15-20 items, so it's about $1.50-$2 each, which is only marginally more than the store (protip: swap out potatos and onions for mangos and avocados to stretch your $ even more). The veggies are so flavorful I'm often content with less meat, which saves money overall. You just have to be sure to use all the veggies before they go bad, and since you're trying to do this, it'll make you want to eat at home more and eat out less, for even more savings.

  2. BrewerDave - thanks for the tip about what to swap in the CSA! That's great thinking!